CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, N.J., rallied Democrats on Tuesday night to kick off the party’s national convention -- urging delegates and others in the crowd to back the party platform, which he said will move America forward with investment in education, fair taxation and other policy goals.
To the cheers of “Cory, Cory, Cory,” Booker roared through a roughly 10-minute speech that focused almost exclusively on energizing the hundreds inside the Time Warner Cable Arena and getting delegates to approve the platform, which they promptly did in a voice vote.
“Our platform is about moving America and our economy forward,” he said. “Everyone from the wealthy to the super wealthy must pay their fair share.”
Booker got his loudest applause when he said, "being asked to pay your fair share isn't class warfare, it's patriotism."
In a speech that steered away from directly attacking GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Booker said the country cannot be committed to having the world's No. 1 economy "without being No. 1 in education."
Booker, a co-chairman on the platform committee, made no direct mention of his successes as mayor nor hinted about a possible gubernatorial run – to the disappointment of those excited about a possible 2013 matchup with incumbent GOP Gov. Chris Christie.
Earlier in the day, Booker reportedly twisted an ankle while exiting a car, then stood on his good leg while speaking to a group of delegates. He also reportedly helped hand out condoms at a Planned Parenthood rally.
Booker's path to the convention was not without a roadbump, as he misspelled an ad in a convention directory, saying "Re-Elect President Barak Obama."
The goof was lampooned in the New York tabloids and was the latest slip-up for the 43-year-old mayor and rising Democratic star. In May, Booker said on a nationally broadcast news program that the Obama campaign's attacks on Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital were "nauseating" and made him "very uncomfortable."
Booker later said he was talking about attacks by Democrats and Republicans.
With his widely viewed typo, Booker joins Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a convention speaker and typically one of Obama's surest message handlers. O'Malley on Sunday said that Americans are not better off than they were four years ago, but has since backtracked.
Asked that question Sunday, he said "no." O'Malley then said in an interview Monday, and on his Twitter page: "We are clearly better off as a country because we're now creating jobs rather than losing them."
Though political junkies are drooling over the potential 2013 matchup that would feature one of each party's most dynamic lawmakers and likely garner national attention, Booker says he's not mounting a challenge.
Whether Booker, a Yale Law School graduate, will challenge Christie remains unclear. But he recently criticized Republicans as "out of line" with New Jersey voters on such issues as abortion and gay marriage. "I think our party will always be more attractive than the Republican Party, which in New Jersey has been stuck," he told the Newark Star-Ledger.
Despite the miscues, the two-term mayor still maintains superhero status among some constituents -- having saved a women this spring from a house fire and taking it upon himself in 2010 to shovel out a snowbound elderly resident, after learning about the predicament on Twitter.
The anticipation over the Booker speech was similar to that before Christie took the stage -- with political analysts wondering whether he will focus on championing his presidential candidate or spend more time highlighting successes to advance his political career.
Christie began by telling his life story and talking about how he's cut taxes and balanced three straight budgets but closed with powerful endorsement of Mitt Romney and running mate Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, telling the crowd "We need them right now."